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Friday, May 09, 2014

Knobler: Yankees shifting philosophy on defense

Or as Michael Kay said a few years ago…“You’ll never see the Yankees doing these shifts!” Oh, and a David Grabiner sighting.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt [Cashman] has always worshipped Billy Beane,” one former Cashman employee said, referring to the A’s general manager who was the star of Moneyball. “He’s so enthralled with Billy Beane, it’s unbelievable.”

Beane remains highly regarded in the game, and his A’s continue to win division titles with nowhere near the resources that Cashman’s Yankees have. There’s nothing wrong with trying to learn from what the A’s have done, or even improving on it.

There’s nothing wrong with embracing shifts, either, even if the early-season numbers said they have actually cost the Yankees three net runs (that wouldn’t have scored without shifts).

Seriously, why should defenders always stand in the traditional positions, when the numbers say that the batter at the plate almost never hits the ball there?

Change isn’t easy, and it’s why the Yankees have stopped shifting behind veteran starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who wasn’t comfortable with it (just as the Rays don’t shift behind David Price, for the same reason). There are occasional grumbles from the Yankees’ pitching staff about the shifts, especially when a hit goes through a hole that would have traditionally been filled by the shortstop or second baseman.

It is a work in progress, but it’s a project that the Yankees are fully committed to, and are convinced will work. In a baseball world where shifts are increasing exponentially, they’re now one of the teams leading the way.

...The Yankees’ shifts come from data delivered by Fishman and David Grabiner, coordinated with major league coaching assistant Brett Weber and then with third-base coach Rob Thomson.

Repoz Posted: May 09, 2014 at 07:23 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 09, 2014 at 09:14 AM (#4703267)
Shifts require the pitcher's cooperation. For a shift to work consistently, the pitcher has to be willing and able to throw pitches that encourage the hitter to hit the ball into the shift. It's a testimony to Maddon and Girardi that they aren't blindly wedded to "the numbers" and are prepared to take individual pitcher tendencies into account.

-- MWE
   2. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4703334)
Shifts require the pitcher's cooperation. For a shift to work consistently, the pitcher has to be willing and able to throw pitches that encourage the hitter to hit the ball into the shift.


Apparently teams are getting away from that. They've basically found that the batters are hitting balls to that spot even if you pitch them away from it - that if you have a pull shift on a guy and pitch him away, he's still likely to pull a ground ball. So the pitchers pitch the same way they normally would.
   3. Publius Publicola Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4703340)
“I don’t think there’s any doubt [Cashman] has always worshipped Billy Beane,” one former Cashman employee said, referring to the A’s general manager who was the star of Moneyball. “He’s so enthralled with Billy Beane, it’s unbelievable.”


In fact, I don't think it's an overstatement to say that Cashman has a mancrush on billy.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 09, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4703668)
are prepared to take individual pitcher tendencies into account.


There's a fine line between "tendencies" and "irrational resistance to data."

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